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Press Release

HSC Strike Action: Significant Disruption Expected


There will be further significant disruption to health and social care services across Northern Ireland as a result of strike action on Wednesday 8 January and Friday 10 January by the Royal College of Nursing. Unison will also be taking strike action on 10 January.

Patient and service user safety is of the utmost importance.  Regrettably to help mitigate the impact of the widespread disruption across all Trust areas, numerous appointments and treatments have been cancelled and a number of services across our hospitals and the community care sector have had to be stood down or reduced.

A spokesperson for Health and Social Care (HSC) organisations said:

“We sincerely apologise in advance for the distress this action will cause to everyone impacted especially our patients, service users and family members.

“Patients and service users impacted by cancellations of appointments and service closures will be notified by their local HSC Trust and appointments will be rescheduled as soon as practicably possible. If patients or service users have not been contacted by their Trust then they should attend their appointment/service as normal.

“All Emergency Departments (EDs) will remain open as normal, however, as highlighted last week, EDs remain under extreme pressure as a result of winter demand. Therefore, reduced staffing levels on 8th and 10th will significantly impact on the ability of the system to discharge patients and further compound pressures in ED and throughout hospital and community services.

“In addition, the South Tyrone Hospital Minor Injury Unit (MIU), Mid Ulster MIU, Bangor MIU will be closed on Wednesday 8th January.

“The priority will be on the treating of emergency and life threatening conditions first. Patients with less urgent conditions may have to wait for lengthy periods.

“We would ask the public to assist us in using services appropriately. Our clear message is if you are seriously ill or injured, then the Emergency Department is the place to go.

“But if you do not need emergency care, we would urge you to please choose alternative services. These include using the online A-Z symptom checker (click here), seeking advice from your local pharmacist, contacting your GP, or the GP Out of Hours services (if your medical condition can’t wait until your GP surgery reopens).

“All Health and Social Care organisations will continue to work alongside the Unions to safeguard urgent and time critical care and to mitigate the effects of the disruption.

“This is a very stressful time for everyone involved in the delivery of services and we would ask anyone who is availing of HSC services to respect our staff who will be providing services during what will be an extremely challenging week for all.”

For further high level details on the impact of the strike action and action short of strike go to www.hscboard.hscni.net/hsc-industrial-action-updates

For the latest and most up to date information on disruptions and cancellations, please visit the Trusts’ website (details below).


For press enquiries contact the Health and Social Care Board’s Communications Officer on 028 9536 3278.


Notes to Editors

For the latest information go to:

The public can find out the waiting times at all EDs and Minor Injury Units across the region by logging onto www.nidirect.gov.uk/emergency-department-waiting-times. This NI Direct webpage is updated hourly.

See latest statement issued on Friday 3rd January 2020 in pressures in Emergency Departments: